‘We paid N2.5m to secure Enyimba, Abia Comets stars’ release’
• Teammate faults police claim over ransom
Enyimba’s Ekundayo Ojo and Benjamin Iluyomade of Abia Comets, who were kidnapped on Sunday in Ondo State, yesterday regained their freedom after paying an undisclosed amount as ransom to their abductors.
Enyimba confirmed the players’ release in a statement yesterday, but there are conflicting reports on the process of their release.
Enyimba yesterday said in a statement: “The footballers were released on Wednesday night following combined efforts of Enyimba Football Club and families of the players.
“It would be recalled that the footballers were kidnapped along the Benin-Owo expressway as they journeyed to Akure following the suspension of the Nigeria Professional Football League amid concerns over the global pandemic, Covid-19.
“The players have since reunited with their families.”
However, while the Ondo State Police Command said no ransom was paid to secure the players’ release, a source close to the family said they paid N2.5 million for their freedom.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Leo-Tee Ikoro had declared, “the footballers were rescued by men of the command.”
He insisted that no ransom was paid before the release of the players.
But a former teammate and Sunshine Stars Skipper, Sunday Abe, who was involved in the rescue process, narrated how the players were released, saying he went with the two brothers of the Enyimba player, Femi Ojo and Sunday Ojo, to get the two players released at the agreed meeting point around Elegbeka after Owo Local Government.
He pointed out that the rescue was at the behest of the victims’ family members, friends and his teammates at Enyimba FC of Aba and not men of Nigerian Police.
Abe recounted that Ojo’s team, Enyimba FC, contributed N1.5 million, while the family members rallied round to raise the remaining N1 million before the duo were released.
He revealed that the kidnappers were young Fulani boys and the money was paid in cash, with other people abducted, bringing their ransom to the spot where they asked them to come.
“They called us around after 4.00 p.m. on Wednesday that we should come with the money. At times they asked me to send them recharge card, we tried to speak with them on the financial state of the country.
“We negotiated from N100 million to N20 million before they finally agreed on N2.5 million. Those people have back up in the Army, Police just name it, they never asked us to drop the money inside the bush, they met with us one on one.
“They asked me to bring the money before they released them, so I don’t know where police rescued them because I don’t like ‘fake news,’ we reached Akure around 1.00 a.m. on Thursday.
“But the most important thing is that both of them are alive and are back with their families,” he said.